Battle of Ameixial

The Battle of Ameixial, was fought on 8 June 1663, near the village of Santa Vitória do Ameixial, some 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) north-west of Estremoz, between Spanish and Portuguese as part of the Portuguese Restoration War. In Spain, the battle is better known as the Battle of Estremoz.

Battle of Ameixial
Part of Portuguese Restoration War
Batalha do Ameixal.jpg
17th-century Portuguese engraving depicting the Battle of Ameixial
Date8 June 1663
Location38°51′00″N 7°39′00″W / 38.8500°N 7.6500°W / 38.8500; -7.6500Coordinates: 38°51′00″N 7°39′00″W / 38.8500°N 7.6500°W / 38.8500; -7.6500
Result Portuguese victory[2]
Belligerents
 Portugal
England England[1]
 Spain
Commanders and leaders
Portugal Sancho Vilhena
Frederick Schomberg
PortugalCount of Ericeira
Spain John of Austria
Strength

17,000 (3,000 from British Isles):[3][4]

  • 14,000 infantry
  • 3,000 cavalry
  • 15 cannons

18,500:[5][6]

  • 12,500 infantry (26 Spanish Tercios, 8 Italian Tercios, 5 German Tercios and one French Tercio)
  • 6,000 cavalry (11 trozos or bodies)
  • 18 cannons
Casualties and losses
More than 1,000 Portuguese killed
100 English casualties
4,000 killed
All the artillery captured[3]
D. Sancho Manuel, commander of the Portuguese Army in the battle, portrayed in 1673-5 by Feliciano de Almeida (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence)

In the spring of 1663, the Spanish had undertaken their most successful attack on Portugal, since the beginning of the war.

Under command of John of Austria the Younger, son of Philip IV of Spain (and the conqueror of Catalonia and of the Kingdom of Naples and winner of the French in Italy), the greater part of the south of Portugal was overrun. The important city of Évora was taken on 22 May, opening perspectives for a march on Lisbon, 135 kilometres (84 mi) to the west.

But the lack of ammunition, food and money paralysed the Spanish army. The Portuguese raised a 17,000 men strong army led by Sancho Manoel de Vilhena, aided by Frederick Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg, Fernando de Meneses, Count of Ericeira and other senior officers, and marched against the Spanish.[7] The Spanish commander decided to retreat to a strategic position at the north east of Évora and wait for the enemy, leaving a garrison of 3,700 in Évora.

The Portuguese army was reinforced by three regiments (1 cavalry & 2 infantry) of about 3,000 troops, from England (mostly from around the British isles) which were put under the command of the Duke of Schomberg.[4] Also included were a small number of mercenaries from France. Of this foreign contingent, almost 2,000 English fought in Ameixial, about 1600 incorporated in the infantry and 300 in the cavalry.

The standard of Don John of Austria was captured when his squadron was almost totally killed.[8] The standard was later presented to King Afonso VI of Portugal himself.[8]

The Spanish casualties were very high, all of their artillery and baggage was captured,[3][8] and the army was forced to retreat to Badajoz in Extremadura. When the Spanish garrison of Évora of 3,700 men capitulated on 24 June 1663, the whole expedition was a complete failure. The independence of the Kingdom of Portugal was saved while the military career of John of Austria ended.

A memorial stone was placed on the site of the battlefield.[9]

The battle is memorialized in a prominent azulejo of the Room of the Battles (Sala das Batalhas) in the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira, created in 1671-1672.[10]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Edward McMurdo, p.421
  2. ^ Dauril Alden, p. 115
  3. ^ a b c Edward McMurdo, p.420
  4. ^ a b Paul, Hardacre (1960). The English Contingent in Portugal, 1662–1668, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, volume 38. pp. 112–125.
  5. ^ H. V. Livermore, p. 188
  6. ^ Ribeiro, p.91
  7. ^ Rui Natário, As Grandes Batalhas da História de Portugal, Marcador Editora, Barcarena, 2013 (in oortuguese)
  8. ^ a b c Great Britain Royal Manuscripts, pp. 111-12
  9. ^ H. V. Livermore, p. 169
  10. ^ The inscription in Portuguese reads as follows: Altissimo enseaimaimportante memoravel batalha Domingial q’ ganharão asenvensiveis armas portuguezas asitidas da direcção do Conde Devillaflor eosmais cabos e pessoas notaveis [damaged section] em seus ostos aonumeroso vetereno easis formidavel exercito deCastela que governava Dom ião de Austria oprimeiro Castelhano que por suas virtudes fama nasimento heomais natural filho de Felippe 4 idisputada econseguida aos 8 deiunho de 663 com total rota detodo o exercito eperda universal do trem de bagagens eartilharia epessoas degrande conta e grandes deespanha e dous mil cavallos q’ se tomarão vivos for a os mortos eferidos que ficarão no campo. Nuno Lemos Pires (2000). "Os painéis de azulejos da Sala das batalhas do Palácio Fronteira de um ponto de vista militar". Academia.edu.

BibliographyEdit